Tuesday, February 17

NET Bible

One of the best resources on the web for Bible study is the NET BIBLE. I love it not so much for the actual translation--although that is good, too--but for the tranlation notes, which are a real gold mine of valuable info for the Bible student.

Just for fun, let's look at that favorite verse of all, John 3:16. Here it is as found in the NET BIBLE:

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Hmmm...some interesting changes from the way we're used to quoting it. Let's look at the translation notes.

Notes on "For this is the way..." (The Greek fonts will be messed up, but we'll ignore them.):

Or "this is how much"; or "in this way." The Greek adverb ou{tw" (Joutws ) can refer (1) to the degree to which God loved the world, that is, to such an extent or so much that he gave his own Son (see R. E. Brown, John [AB], 1:133-34; D. A. Carson, John , 204) or (2) simply to the manner in which God loved the world, i.e., by sending his own son (see R. H. Gundry and R. W. Howell, "The Sense and Syntax of John 3:14-17 with Special Reference to the Use of Ou{tw"...w{ste in John 3:16," NovT 41 [1999]: 24-39) .Though the term more frequently refers to the manner in which something is done (see BDAG 741-42 s.v. ou{tw /ou{tw" ), the following clause involving w{ste (Jwste ) plus the indicative (which stresses actual, but [usually] unexpected result) emphasizes the greatness of the gift God has given. With this in mind, then, it is likely (3) that John is emphasizing both the degree to which God loved the world as well as the manner in which He chose to express that love. This is in keeping with John's style of using double entendre or double meaning. Thus, the focus of the Greek construction here is on the nature of God's love, addressing its mode, intensity, and extent.

Here is the note on "one and only":

Although this word is often translated "only begotten," such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant. 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham"s only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means "one-of-a-kind" and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God ( tevkna qeou' ,tekna qeou ), Jesus is God"s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).

On "perish":

In John the word ajpovllumi (apollumi ) can mean either (1) to be lost (2) to perish or be destroyed, depending on the context.

And on "eternal life":

The alternatives presented are only two (again, it is typical of Johannine thought for this to be presented in terms of polar opposites): perish or have eternal life.

Fascinating stuff, isn't it?

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